Cross Hatching Drawings

hand drawing several boats using a cross hatching drawing technique

Posted On March 4, 2019

Hatching and cross hatching has been used for centuries as the means of achieving tone and texture while drawing with ink and pen. In hatching the lines go parallel on the paper while in cross hatching drawings lines cross in an angle creating a tone grid.

Depending on the impression you want to achieve lines can be carefully drawn or just added to the paper with relaxed uneven moves. You can achieve so much different effects by simply changing the pressure of the pen on the paper or making different space between the lines.

The closer the lines are and the thicker they are the tone you get will be stronger. Since you do not cover the entire surface of the paper the tone maintains the luminescence which is one of the basic advantages of this technique.


 Boats on the beach

To create this drawing you will need the following:

  • One sheet of smooth natron paper
  • Thin black marker pen number 0.2
  • Hard H pencil




Using the hard H pencil to sketch the main contours of the objects with very soft pale lines. When you are satisfied with the drawing use the marker to carefully go over all the lines.

Shade the rocks in the background with short horizontal, vertical and diagonal moves using cross hatching to depict the contour of the rocks. Make horizontal lines in the darkest areas thicker. The darker the shapes in the background are the more the shapes in the front plane stand out.

So shading the rocks in the background darker will make the ships in the front plane stand out and give your drawing a tridimensionality. The marker pen is perfect for cross hatching because with it you can make short swift moves on the paper as it has a nice thin point.


sketch of several boats done with graphite pencil
sketch of boats made with cross hatching

Building the composition

Start working on the three fishing boats in the background. Use light hatching moves for the lightest tones on the boats and then build the surfaces of darker tones using cross hatching adding lines closer to each other. Draw masts and mark the details on the cabins. Use the whiteness of the paper to point out the lightest tones.

With a long line of short vertical lines depict the peble beach. The dots and swift short moves will help you depict larger pebbles. Now work on the details of your drawing, drawing the boats and the rocks. Develop all the areas simultaneously rather than lingering on one specific part. That will help you with the balance on your drawing.

Fill the boat in the front plane by hatching and cross hatching carefully following the shapes of it. Draw the cabin of the fisherman and rolled up sail with short vertical and horizontal moves to separate dark and light areas.

 To give a glimpse of water reflections around the boat overlap cross hatched areas. Make the boat in the front plane darker with thick cross hatching to make it stand out. Carefully draw the ropes with thin lines.

Ad shade to the man figure leaning on the side of the boat with a few moves, emphasize the waves hitting the shore with relaxed cross hatching leaving the paper white here and there to depict the foam on top of them. Over all of it draw more cross hatched  patterns with thicker lines to depict the shade the boat makes on the surface of the water.

Draw the ropes on the boats in the backplane then work on the uneven surface of the beach with swift moves of the pen in different directions. Don’t add too many details to this part of your drawing leave it with many white areas so it would create a contrast to the boats with meticulously added details.


sketch of two boats made with graphite pencil

Finishing touches

Continue working on the beach emphasizing the shade with light moves of the marker pen over the areas you already sketched. Go back and work on the entire drawing. Ad details to fill the boats and cliffs using hatching and cross hatching to express your specific feeling for shape, texture and tone contrast.

In order to draw the sky properly, you need to use light moves and thinner lines then you did on the cliffs and the boats. Hold the marker pen on the middle part of it and use light swift moves on the paper to express the airy texture of the clouds.

When you finish carefully determining the shape of the clouds use hatching and cross hatching to give them shade and make them look tridimensional. See how the diagonal lines on the clouds correlate to diagonal lines on the boats and give depth to your drawing.

Ad finishing touches, cleansing the tone and contour where you feel a need to do so. This technique is demanding and you need to use a methodical approach in order to do it well but I think the outcome is worth all that effort. Finished drawing contains graphical simplicity and pleasant mixture of open space and carefully built surfaces.

This is one way of using cross hatching in your drawings. If you have any questions and need any help what so ever feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to answer and help in any way I can.

Written by Magdalena

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